Fayetteville voters accept $226 million bond issue, Cultural Arts Corridor narrowly passes

by Jeff Della Rosa (JDellaRosa@nwabj.com) 1,256 views 

Fayetteville voters approved a $226.07 million bond issue to complete several projects, including $73.93 million in street work, a $36.97 million police headquarters and a $31.69 million Cultural Arts Corridor.

Voters on Tuesday (April 9) accepted all 10 ballot items in a special election and were approved with more than 63% of the vote — except for the Cultural Arts Corridor, which passed with 53.8% of the vote, according to unofficial results. Along with the corridor, police headquarters and street work, the city will refinance the existing $12.2 million in bonds and complete drainage work, trail improvements, park projects and workforce development. It also will renovate city offices and add three fire stations.

“We just put this city on course for about the next 15 years,” Mayor Lioneld Jordan said. “This is a very gratifying win tonight.”

The bond issue will be paid for with an existing 1-cent sales tax, which will be extended as a result of the vote, and the city expects the bonds to be paid off in 12 to 16 years. Without any economic growth, the bonds would be paid off in 12 years, said Susan Norton, director of communications and marketing for the city.

Some of the road projects include completing the last missing segment of North Rupple Road; Zion Road, between North Vantage Drive to North Crossover Road; North Porter Road, between West Deane Street and West Sycamore Street; North Street and Mission Boulevard, between North Garland Avenue to Old Wire Road; and improvements to Highway 71B to implement the recommendations from the Highway 71B Corridor Plan.

The road work will also include intersection improvements at West 15th Street and Razorback Road, Millsap Road and North College Avenue and to add traffic signals to four or five locations that have yet to be determined. The traffic signal network will receive upgrades to better adjust to changing traffic conditions and connect to future connected vehicle technology. Sidewalks will be improved throughout downtown, and transit stop amenities and safety will be upgraded.

The city will spend up to $36.97 million for a new police headquarters, and it will include a main police department, a training facility and indoor firing range. A study completed in 2018 by Dewberry Architects showed the existing police department was outdated and recommended to build a 79,635-square-foot facility, with 55,000 square feet for the main police department, 13,000 square feet for the training building and 11,100 square feet for the firing range.

The 12-acre Cultural Arts Corridor project will include a 2.5-acre Civic Plaza, a 9.5-acre Fay Jones Woods and replacement parking, which is expected to cost $10 million. The parking will be for the 290-space West Avenue lot that will be developed into the Civic Plaza at the southwest corner of Dickson Street and West Avenue. Proposed buildings within the Civic Space include a two- to three-story building on the northern end and a four- to seven-story building on the south end. The city plans to seek proposals from developers for use of the buildings.

Work on the plaza is expected to start in spring 2021 and be completed in summer 2022, but work on the plaza won’t start until the replacement parking is completed. Work on the parking and Fay Jones Woods should start in spring 2020 and be completed in spring 2021. In 2018, the city selected Nabholz as the contractor and Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects of Charlottesville, Va., as the designer. Walton Family Foundation gave $1.77 million for the design in late 2017 as part of the foundation’s Northwest Arkansas Design Excellence Program.

Following is a summary of the unofficial result in the election with an 11.5% voter turnout:

Refinance existing bonds
For: 4,292 (71.3%)
Against: 1,732 (28.8%)

Streets
For: 4,431 (73.7%)
Against: 1,584 (26.3%)

Trails
For: 3,856 (64.1%)
Against: 2,159 (35.9%)

Drainage
For: 4,500 (74.8%)
Against: 1,515 (25.2%)

Parks
For: 4,119 (68.5%)
Against: 1,894 (31.5%)

Workforce Development
For: 3,683 (63%)
Against: 2,162 (37%)

Renovate City Offices
For: 4,142 (68.9%)
Against: 1,871 (31.1%)

Cultural Arts Corridor
For: 3,160 (53.8%)
Against: 2,711 (46.2%)

Police
For: 4,245 (70.5%)
Against: 1,773 (29.5%)

Fire
For: 4,771 (79.2%)
Against: 1,251 (20.8%)

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